To keep up with Silicon Valley, the FTC is building a tech-focused office

To keep up with Silicon Valley, the FTC is building a tech-focused office

The Federal Trade Commission is establishing a specialised technology office to increase surveillance of Silicon Valley and assist it in staying on top of developing technologies and trends in a fast-moving industry. On Thursday, commissioners voted 4-0 to establish the position.

The FTC has narrowed its emphasis on technology businesses under the leadership of chair Lina Khan. After FTC claims that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Epic Games agreed to a record $520 million payment last year. The government has also sued to prevent Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard and NVIDIA from acquiring ARM (NVIDIA backed out of the deal).

According to rumours, the FTC has also investigated Amazon’s acquisitions of One Medical and MGM. Nonetheless, the agency’s effort to stop Meta’s acquisition of Inside was unsuccessful.

“For more than a century, the FTC has tried to stay pace with emerging markets and ever-changing technology by establishing internal expertise,” Khan said in a statement. “Our technology office is a logical next step in ensuring we have the in-house expertise required to properly comprehend emerging technologies and market trends as we continue to combat illegal corporate activities and safeguard Americans.”

The Office of Technology will assist the FTC’s antitrust and consumer protection divisions in their investigations of company practises and the technology underpinning them. It will provide policy and research advice to FTC staff and commissioners. It will also throw a light on developing technology and industry developments that impact the FTC’s operations.

“Having employees within to handle these challenges and assist with subject matter knowledge is vital,” said FTC chief technology officer Stephanie Nguyen, who will manage the department. The organisation intends to more than treble its number of technology-focused employees from 10 to around 22.

“The areas… we would concentrate on are situations,” Ngyuen said. “This entails understanding the particular market and business concepts. This includes communicating the platform’s technology and services. This includes researching the competitors and significant market players.”

The office might assist the government fine-tune subpoenas and settlement details to make them more powerful with greater experience and a better grasp of how digital firms operate. The team will assist other FTC offices with other investigations (after all, most businesses utilise technology), but its primary goal is to keep a tight check on the IT industry.

The decision to open the office and enhance the agency’s roster of digital professionals comes at a time when the sector is in turmoil. Microsoft and Google have revealed plans to integrate artificial intelligence chatbots into their search engines and other services.

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